“Sources close to Putin” say Russia’s former President will run for his old office next year, according to The Australian.
With this declaration, the possibility of a power struggle with his protege, current president Dimitry Medvedev, comes one step closer to fruition.
The relationship between Medvedev and Putin has become strained in recent months amid speculation that Medvedev would not stand aside and let Putin re-assume the presidency.
The current president has not announced his intention to run, but in his first-ever televised question and answer session last week Medvedev indirectly advanced his case for 2012 reelection.
The National Review points out that Russia’s presidential campaigns are vastly different than those in America.
Russia’s 2012 presidential election will be resolved behind closed doors in a byzantine process that no outsider can understand. There will emerge one candidate, who will run against token opposition, and who will be Russia’s president for the next four years.
Neither candidate has openly declared his intentions or candidly presented his political platform. Rather each man uses allusion, masked language, and indirect communication with the public, their opponents, and their supporters to announce their plans.
Putin is 58 year-old, to Medvedev ‘s 45, but the different directions they offer their country span far more than their difference in age.
Putin is a hard spoken former KGB agent who has inspired a cult of personality during his time in office, and is generally eager to display his tough-guy persona despite his diminutive stature.
Medvedev is a Twitter enthusiast, who travels to Silicon Valley and promises to increase foreign investments in Russia.
The two men’s chosen medium reflects their divergent constituencies. Putin’s television speeches address less-educated, older voters, state employees, and even right-wing skinheads. He reminds pensioners that he’s increased their income and talks directly to political appointees.
Medvedev tells an ambitious, younger generation of Russians that he is the one to help them compete in the world of high tech.
There is little doubt the outcome of the 2012 election will result on one of two very different Russia’s. If Medvedev wins, he will be constrained by vested interests, but if he believes in his platform Russia will be moderately more pro-Western, pro-democracy.
If Putin is Russia’s next leader we will likely see a more brutish, bully image presented to the world. According to the National Review:
Political opponents will continue to be beaten. Corruption is likely to grow.
It could be an epic power struggle with vast fortunes gained or lost and the potential to get messy. If Medvedev refuses to step aside he will certainly keep in mind the fact that Putin controls the KGB, the police and the justice system.
Perhaps that was his foremost thought when he recently took to wearing a bomber jacket that boldly read: “Russia’s Commander-in-Chief.”
One of the commander-in-chief’s powers is the ability to fire the prime minister.